The radiation oncology division at Cape Town’s Tygerberg Hospital has been equipped with Swedish manufacturer Elekta’s specialist oncology radiotherapy and radiosurgery equipment to treat patients faster and more effectively.

The unit is equipped with four Digital Linear Accelerators and the MOSAIQ Oncology Information Management System, an eHealth system that is designed to manage the complete spectrum of oncology treatments in a single patient record.

“We’re privileged to have a very progressive and forward-thinking CEO and provincial authorities who see the value of investing in state of the art equipment, which enables us to deliver the same quality of care found in hospitals in Europe and the US,” said Head of Radiation Oncology at Tygerberg and Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University, Prof Hannah Simonds.

“The Tygerberg radiation oncology division currently treats around 2,500 patients a year, with an increase of around 300 year on year. As patient cancer awareness improves and the population life expectancy increases due to improved management of other conditions, we expect to see oncology patient numbers increasing. So we have to be prepared,” continued Prof Simonds.

According to Prof Simonds, the installation of the new electronic patient data management system will enhance auditing of the division’s patient numbers, treatment and outcomes. “The end of 2015 will be the end of the first full clinical year using this data management system. It will support outcomes projects looking at factors such as toxicity and survival rates.”

South African oncology is characterised by a larger number of patients in the advanced stages of cancer, as well as a larger number of patients suffering from other conditions – such as HIV and TB – compared the rest of the world. The Division of radiation oncology at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital is a national and international leader in cancer treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and is internationally recognised for its excellence in clinical treatments, education and research.

The treatments offered include Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Four Dimensional Computed Tomography (4D CT) and Four Dimensional Positron Emmision Tomography-Computerised Tomography (4D PET-CT),  Linear Accelerators for external beam radiotherapy and radioisotopes in brachytherapy as well neutrons and protons in collaboration with I-Themba labs to treat those cancers that cannot successfully be treated with photons and electrons.

Tygerberg Hospital’s radiation oncology unit is one of only two state units furnished with advanced oncology radiotherapy equipment to serve around four million people in the Western Cape. “Many under-resourced hospitals in Africa still have to rely on cobalt gamma ray systems, with the associated risk of causing complications. However, our Elekta Digital Linear Accelerators allow us to limit the radiation exposure of normal tissue and so reduce side effects. We also have a very high- tech imaging system for the best quality assurance,” said Prof Simonds.

Service Partner Manager: Sub-Saharan Africa at Elekta South Africa, Martin Noordman, noted that access to world-class advanced Digital Linear Accelerators benefits more than just Tygerberg’s patients. “As part of a renowned academic institution, the division trains health professionals from across the country and even from across the continent. So the benefits extend beyond immediate patient treatment to training in advanced techniques, which has a long term impact on oncology treatment,” said Noordman.

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